Q&A with Hartford Half Marathon Champ (and Olympian) Steph Reilly

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing

Steph Reilly spent some time this summer racing overseas, including the Olympics. The Olympian is back in New England now and has settled back into her routine, which includes head coaching duties at Bryant University and also winning the occasional road race.

Steph took advantage of an off weekend for the Bryant Bulldogs by racing the half marathon in Hartford. It was time well spent, as her 1:15:40 was good enough for the win.

Steph answered a few questions for The Level afterwards:

How did the race go? What were your goals coming in (win, specific time, etc)?

The race went well. This is definitely a new environment for me, and so I didn’t really have a specific goal in regards to a time. This time of year is off-season for me, where I build aerobic capacity, so a half marathon was a nice complement to my training.  My 6 mile tempo runs have all been consistently in the 5:45-5:50 per mile range pace. I figured I would start off in that range and see if I could maintain that pace for 13 miles. All in all, it felt quite comfortable.

You won by almost two and a half minutes. Were you aware of how big a lead you had? Or were you just focused on racing the guys around you?

Reilly out in front at the 2011 Rhody 5k (courtesy of Ted Tyler).

The first mile I hung back to get a sense of the other women in the field and if I was going to have competition. I hit the first mile in 5:55, feeling very easy with not many women around. I didn’t want to get stuck at that pace so at that point I figured I needed to just focus and run my own pace and to my own strengths. I was still conservative the first half, as my second half of the race was a about a minute faster. I was excited to feel strong over the last 5 miles.

A half is a longer distance than you usually race, isn’t it? Is this part of plan to build up to racing longer distances?

Yes this is a lot longer than my usual type race. No plan to move to anything longer anytime in the near future. My focus is still on the track, and getting faster over all my distances – 1500, steeple, and in particular the 5000m next summer. I need to pay my dues to the 10000m track scene before going long on the roads.

Do you have more confidence lining up for a race now after having represented Ireland in London?

I think I am always confident when I step to the line no matter where I have been or what I have done. Sure, I get confidence in what I have achieved, but more so, I get confidence in the consistency of my training and the progression I keep making.

So no races for the Bryant team this weekend, but you decided to spend a day at the races anyway. Is there any challenge in switching gears from coach mode to runner mode?

No race this weekend, they had a well earned week off as we prepare for our conference meet. I really don’t have any challenges in switching gears from coach to athlete. Balance in my family, career, and athletics life has had a positive effect on what I am doing.

Speaking of coaching, how’s the season been going so far?

The season has been fantastic. The teams are looking very good and strong and are ready for the conference meet October 27th. We are hosting this year at Bryant so it is very exciting for them, and they are all fired up for it. They are holding up very well with the training, and have progressed through the season wonderfully. I am looking forward to seeing all of the hard work pay off.

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